What's my birthstone? - December
TANZANITE, TURQUOISE, ZIRCON
If you had to pick one birthstone for December which would it be: tanzanite, turquoise or zircon? From the blue to bluish purple of tanzanite, to the intense blue and green of turquoise, to the rainbow varieties of zircon – there’s a colour for everyone. If blue is what you’re looking for all three December birthstones have their own unique take on this favorite hue.
TURQUOISE BIRTHSTONE MEANING & HISTORY
Turquoise is a semi-translucent to opaque gem that ranges from blue to green and often has veins of matrix (remnants of the rock in which it formed) running through it. This December birthstone has been cherished for millennia. The pharaohs and other rulers of ancient Egypt adorned themselves with it. Chinese artisans carved it more than 3,000 years ago.
The turquoise birthstone was thought to possess many beneficial powers, like guaranteeing health and good fortune. From the 13th century on, it was believed to protect the wearer from falling (especially off horses), and would break into several pieces at the approach of disaster. Hindu mystics maintained that seeing a turquoise after beholding the new moon ensured fantastic wealth.
This turquoise birthstone also played an important role in the lives of Native Americans. The Apache thought turquoise could be found by following a rainbow to its end. They also believed that attaching the December birthstone to a bow or firearm made one’s aim more accurate. The Pueblo maintained that turquoise got its colour from the sky, while the Hopi thought the gem was produced by lizards scurrying over the earth.
TANZANITE BIRTHSTONE MEANING & HISTORY
Tanzanite may be a relative newcomer to the world of coloured stones but it was one of the most exciting gem discoveries of the 20th century. Blue stones emerging from Tanzania were identified as the mineral zoisite in 1962. Not until 1967 though did prospectors locate the primary source for this December birthstone: the Merelani Hills. It was eventually named tanzanite in honor of its country of origin. The tanzanite birthstone is often described as “velvety,” mostly because of its deep and saturated colour, which ranges from a pure rich blue to violet, with the blue considered most valuable.
Tiffany & Co. believed that tanzanite had international appeal and became its main distributor. In 1968 Tiffany launched a major advertising campaign to promote it. With its vivid colours, high clarity and potential for large cut stones, tanzanite quickly became a sensation.
ZIRCON BIRTHSTONE MEANING & HISTORY
The origins of the word “zircon” have elicited colourful debate. Some scholars believe it comes from the Arabic word zarkun, meaning “cinnabar” or “vermilion.” Others think the source is the Persian word zargun, or “gold colored.” Considering the broad colour palette for this December birthstone – red, orange, yellow, brown, green and blue – either derivation seems possible. Colourless zircon is known for its brilliance and flashes of multicolored light, called fire, which have resulted in centuries of confusion with diamond.
During the Middle Ages this December birthstone was thought to lull one into a deep sleep and scare off evil spirits. In the Hindu religion zircon alternates with hessonite garnet as one of the nine gems of the navaratna. When worn together the nine gems protect the wearer and bring wealth, wisdom and good health.
Victorians had a fondness for blue zircon. Fine specimens can be found in English estate jewellery from the 1880s.